I CAN’T remember the last time the excitement was so tangible at Pacific Quay, with BBC Scotland staff ‘chomping at the bit’ for their engagement with new director-general, Tony Hall.
It’s happening later this morning.
When his predecessor, Mark Thompson, addressed the staff last year sometime, there was a sense of depression as people waited for the next round of cuts as part of his Delivering Quality First project. However, the mood has changed dramatically with a much more militant group of journalists and production staff. Industrial action by ourselves and BECTU is in full flow and an active work-to-rule over over job cuts is galvanising union members.
What we believe to be the cynical enforcement of two compulsory redundancies, along with the perceived continued mistreatment of those at risk of redundancy, has created a mood of anger and defiance. Only two weeks ago, the chapels across Scotland voted unanimously for a vote of no confidence in the BBC Scotland management and that position has deteriorated since then.
We’ve been asking, for nine months, for the results of an in-house survey of news and current affairs staffing. And only yesterday, the invitation went out, from management to staff, to find out what it has to say.
Since being appointed DG, Sir Tony has held a number of meetings with senior union officers at the NUJ and BECTU and, by all accounts, he has made it clear he will not abide bullying and targeting of individuals.
Staff at BBC Scotland do not want constant conflict, but they want a senior management able and willing to recognise that there are serious shortfalls in staffing levels, who will put the necessary resources in place, to deliver a quality service on a daily basis but specifically during next year’s Commonwealth Games and the independence referendum.
There will be a classic journalistic Q&A session on the banks of the River Clyde and there is no doubt Sir Tony, Lord Birkenhead, director-general of BBC, will leave a lot wiser as to how much Scotland is a trouble spot in his new empire.
Whether he has ‘the bottle’ to tackle it remains to be seen.
Paul Holleran is the Scottish Organiser of the National Union of Journalists.